Ambassador Žygimantas Pavilionis welcomed the Lithuanian community and many friends. Looking at his watch, he informed the audience that it was already 11 March in Lithuania and that the 25th anniversary of re-establishing the modern state of Lithuania could officially start.
Rokas Radzevičius, Aistė Smilgevičiutė, Gediminas Žilys, Mantvydas Kodis. Photo Ludo Segers

He was particularly happy that this historic event could be celebrated in the company of Skylė, a legendary group of four musicians that came on the music scene in 1991, in Vilnius, during the eventful days as the Soviet empire started to collapse. Skylė then joined the ambassador and the audience in singing the Lithuanian National Anthem. The ambassador then introduced Michael Sawkiw, director of the Ukrainian National Information Service, and said: ''Especially in these difficult days for Ukraine, our Embassy, our home abroad is also your home.''

Michael Sawkiw spoke enthusiastically about the historic links between Ukraine and Lithuania. To great delight of the audience, he congratulated the audience in Lithuanian with the 25th anniversary of regaining independence. He thanked Lithuania for the great support the country has been receiving and reminded everybody of a long history of close links.

Before the concert, Skylė presented two videos with songs about the Ukrainian struggle for freedom and last year's protest on the Maidan. Skylė has released 13 albums during their 25 years of existence and the struggle for freedom is one of their recurring messages.

Skylė weaves folk with rock melodies to deliver their poetic texts that are a combination of philosophical, mythological and historic themes. Angelic looking singer, Aistė Smilgevičiūtė fronts a band that sings about these themes of freedom and the legendary partisans. Partisans are feted freedom fighters (Broliai in Lithuanian) that lived in Lithuanian forest hideouts during early Soviet days and formed a fierce resistance. Rokas Radzevičius leads the band on guitar. The group has gone through a series of personal changes during the last 25 years but the line up now includes Mantvydas Kodis on accordion and Gediminas Žilys on bass, Jews harp and kanklės. The latter is an ancient Lithuanian stringed instrument plucked during the performance.

Skylė had arrived from Chicago during their present North American tour. This was their second performance in the US capital. By the end of the concert, they had the entire audience in their ban and several people, including the Ambassador, joined them on stage while the entire audience was singing enthusiastically with the band.

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